Thursday, February 28, 2019

All the words for very basic updates

Life updates!!

It's been awhile!



The usual thing is happening where I think of all these things I want to write on my blog in my head at various times but never actually do it. Whenever I have down time when the kids are asleep or playing with Eric or whatever when I could blog I'm usually reading or scrolling through Reddit eating peanut butter cups in bed and can't be bothered to sit upright at a computer. This mom of 3 thing is pretty exhausting and just intense and I feel like I have nothing left to give once the kids are in bed. Like I can be a mom of 3, and do it, and love it, and do a pretty good job (interspersed with moments of losing my temper and self doubt and crying because I'm the worst mom ever). But then I just have nothing left to be a wife, friend, daughter, sister, aunt...anything else. There's no way I would be functioning as an employee so thank goodness I have some more leave time to get myself together before I have to worry about that. But...yeah. That's where I'm at.

That seemed like kind of a depressing start. But I don't feel like life sucks or anything. Quite the opposite! I would say it's more like amazing filled with love and chaos and complete insanity and fun and adorableness 80% of the time and then total meltdown everyone crying everyone hates everything the other 20%. I feel like I want to do a whole other post on my mental state but this much simpler one has already been like a week in the making, so don't hold your breath.

So, what are we up to?

Dalton: Not much to report! Learning, growing, playing. Amazing me every day with his genius level smarts (I guess it's possible I'm biased by love and he's actually just average but it seems amazing because I've never had a kid this age before). He melts my heart when I tell him he can come upstairs each day. He runs up screaming Remi's up, Remi's up and gives her hugs and kisses. He sings her twinkle twinkle little star when she cries. When he gets a treat or a sticker or anything special (like when he went to work with Eric and Eric gave him his own composition book), he immediately asks if there is one for Royce. He's like my coparent during the daytime and I love having him as my partner in crime. Honestly he's the more responsible one and is constantly reminding me not to forget stuff we need, checking if I strapped his brother and sister correctly into their carseats, basically running the show.

His current favorite imagination game: baby class. They are the teachers.

He's also rapidly approaching 4.5 and my theory is the half ages suck and he is once again proving me right. Everything is an argument, a refusal, a manipulation, or just straight out defiance. I try to tell myself over and over and OVER that a strong will is a good thing in life. It just might kill me trying to parent my 4yo right now. It doesn't help that he is really smart and I am really dumb right now (not being self-deprecating it's just fact that lack of sleep/putting all my energy into tiny humans/not working has reduced my intelligence for the moment). So he often will suggest a different way of doing something than I told him and it will actually be a better or more efficient plan. And then it's like....what, am I supposed to go with my own dumb plan just to show him I'm the boss? Except then it's the if I give him an inch he takes a mile situation and an hour later he's sobbing on the kitchen floor because I told him to eat his grated cheese on a plate instead of out of a bowl and I wouldn't budge on that one because the last freaking thing I need is an extra dish in my life right now.

Good thing he's cute.

Long story short, age 4.5 is fun, helpful, snuggly, adorable, sweet, hilarious, and makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a rusty fork but only sometimes.

All proud of himself for matching all the upper and lower case letters (and his favorite color is pink).

Delving DEEP into boring SAHM mommy diaries, he switched preschool classes this month. The cutoff for kindergarten in Maryland is 9/1, and his birthday is 9/23. So he will always be one of the oldest kids in his class. When he started preschool this year, he entered the 3 year old class, and turned 4 about a week after starting. His teachers recently suggested he move up to the four year old class for the remainder of the year. I was hesitant at first since he will always be the oldest and he just has to get used to it, but this is preschool and that class just happened to be a young 3 class, so by February most of them haven't turned 4 yet while Dalton is almost 4.5, and of course that's a huge difference at this age. So we moved him and he's loving his new class. Selfishly it's a pain in my ass, because it's 3 days a week vs. 2, and we had a really good play date schedule going. Now I feel like we can barely do anything. Preschool is only 2.5 hours, so you can't do much in that time period, and that's MWF, speech is Thursday, and I kind of signed up for this year off work to have FUN, not just constantly drive kids to various educational opportunities.


Chick Fil A playgroup Valentine exchange!

But school ends in mid May so then I can go back to a more relaxed schedule. I did warn you that this was an extreme SAHM first world pain paragraph.

Royce: He is so funny. I feel like going from age 2 to age 3 (he turns 3 in May) brings them from toddler to KID. Now he's this hilarious little boy with an actual personality. He's also the sweetest and is always taking care of his brother and sister as well. He idolizes Dalton and wants to be just like him. Every time we are at a park or playplace he has other parents gasping with fright at his American Ninja Warrior antics. He has a mind of his own (don't they all). He is extremely TWO and testing allllllll the boundaries.

For example, instead of napping he put on baby rainbow leg warmers and did acrobatics.

The big change is his communication book, or flip and talk. His SLP at Kennedy Krieger said recently "I know I'm a broken record but I'm just so impressed how well he is using it and remembering where words are!" in a way that felt genuine and not just the usual praise given to everyone. He uses it for humor, purposely answering things wrong and then giving the cutest mischievous grin. There have been a bunch of times where he's been able to use it to tell us something he never would have been able to without it. For example, telling us his spinach at dinner felt cold. Such a minor thing, right? But one that his impressive array of pointing, miming, and showing wouldn't have allowed him to communicate. It makes me so happy when those moments happen.

I don't have a good picture so here he is playing with his friends. 

That said - I had a bit of rose colored glasses on about it. It's still a huge learning process and requires a ton of work for the whole family. The big thing is for us to model it, and when it's just me all day, trying to juggle a baby, two kids, and use a book to demonstrate how to communicate with it - it's hard. Unlike speaking, I have to be looking over his shoulder to see what he's saying. So if I'm in the middle of something, which I basically always am, his pointing to something doesn't really facilitate communication any better until I can stop and go look. And I think the biggest thing I didn't quite understand was that it's purpose is functional communication. It's not designed to have a conversation with. I see all these cute things other two year olds are saying and it breaks my heart a bit that I will never get to know what funny, silly thoughts Royce is having at age two. But we still have tons of funny and silly moments together and I have to just appreciate those.

He wanted to touch the flag. So 

Just recently (like in the past week!), he's made massive improvements in his verbalization. He has four words he consistently says! Go, yes, car, and mama! This is just beyond incredible, I honestly haven't fully believed it yet. For 2.75 years of his life, he didn't have a single word. I'm doing my best to accept he's on his own path, but it can be hard to hear children much younger than him speaking, and kids his age using complete sentences. And it feels a little awkward sharing this milestone when people normally reach it so much earlier. But he has worked so, so hard to get here and to say we are proud of him is a huge understatement. He's also attempting speech so much more. Over the summer, he would very rarely even attempt to imitate the initial sound of a word. Now he tries to imitate us saying words all day long. Major progress!

Remington:

Taken at 4 months old for her calendar! Photo: Vince (grandpa)

9 months old and the happiest little baby! Such a delight. I really love how babies don't have attitudes yet (and she never will, right?). We had several weeks where she would just sit happily and watch everything around her and coo adorably. Then she realized the world was just way too exciting and started army crawling which rapidly developed into regular crawling and now she's crawling and pulling up on everything! Instead of going to sleep at bedtime she would just stick her little head up, smile excitedly, and start crawling around. Is there anything cuter than a little crawling baby bum?

Always standing!

She loves food! Even when not eating, she loves sitting in her high chair while we sit around the table playing a game or play doh or whatever. Otherwise, she's happily crawling around and taking everything out of cabinets or drawers. We nurse on demand but she's definitely stretching out the time in between. She even took a few ounces from bottles recently!

Typical. Always on the move. To eat things. 

Sleep is confusing. I'm still not checking the clock at night so all I know is she wakes and nurses several times. When we are home, she normally takes her morning nap in her crib and I put her in awake. If we are out, she naps in the car. In the afternoon it's more hit or miss. Sometimes she goes down in the minicrib in our bedroom awake, other times she struggles and I nurse her to sleep and lie with her (DARN WHAT A SACRIFICE). At night she acts like the crib is hot lava so we still bedshare and that's working well for us. I almost always nurse her to sleep at bedtime. She's doing pretty well on a 2/3/4 schedule, which means morning nap two hours after waking, afternoon nap three hours after waking from morning nap, and bedtime four hours after waking from the afternoon nap. Sounds confusing but I swear it's not when you are IN IT. One year from now I will have no clue what any of this means.



Me: Still training for the Baltimore Ten Miler! At this point I've forgotten half my workouts but I've met or exceeded my weekly goal of one weekday run, one other workout, and one weekend "long" run. I've included enough that I've been sore a lot, like a Body Pump class, a core bootcamp, lifting heavy weights with Eric (he always is pushing for high weights low reps on the rare occasions we exercise together).

I have that same feeling of my running improvements not being valid because they have happened so much slower than the insta world. Comparison is the thief of joy and all that. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled with them, it just feels awkward to type them out to share with the internets. I see all these people doing fast, long runs before their baby is even out of the fourth trimester. And then over here - it's taken me 9 months to feel like I can comfortably run 4 miles without taking significant walk breaks.

Except when I have to push this behemoth. Then it's alllllll the walk breaks. 

I guess I expected to bounce back a little faster. Right before getting pregnant, I completed an 8 week track series that focused on speedwork and I've never done anything like that. It was so hard, but I feel like my fitness improved quite a bit from it. I ran a 20 mile race and felt good just 3 days before finding out I was pregnant. And I don't mean this as a complaint AT ALL because I'm beyond grateful for that pregnancy that brought my beautiful daughter into this world! But it can be a tough pill to swallow that it truly means all those fitness gains are gone. Maybe that wouldn't be the case if I had worked out more during pregnancy but we will never know. Sometimes it just feels a tad unfair that Eric gets to keep his body intact through all this childbearing while I have to forgo all fitness, live with a csection shelf, giant feet, devil horn hair for like a year...you get the idea.

Anyway. Whining aside. Training is going well and I have seen fitness gains and now that all my childbearing is done, I can just keep improving slowly but surely.

I think I'm done word vomiting. For now.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Credit where credit is due!



After posting my most recent blog post about my son's speech delay, I was absolutely beyond blown away by the response. My phone was blowing up with messages from people I hadn't spoken to in years, either offering support or sharing their own similar story. It's been amazing to be able to connect with other people I know that were going through their own struggles. 

As a thank you, here's a cute baby picture.

I mentioned in my post that in my experience, sharing that my child wasn't meeting a milestone on the typical timeline resulted in a certain type of response. "He'll get there in his own time." "He's a boy! He just wants to run and play." "So and so never spoke until X age and then began using sentences and was fine". These are all responses that come from a great place of support, with nothing but the best intentions. Trust me, I've typed and retyped a text to someone going through a challenge I've never dealt with, wondering how best to support them and I'm sure there's been plenty of times I've said the wrong thing. But as I mentioned, they can lend themselves to a head in the sand mindset.

The amazing thing about sharing my post was I got to hear the responses that I really needed to hear. "So and so wasn't speaking at X age... so we did a ton of therapy, practiced every single day, worked really hard as a family, fought for services, cried in the shower wondering what I had done wrong, what I could have done more of, how this will affect him throughout his life, laid awake at night, jumped up and down with crazy excitement at the smallest victories, never gave up...and he was fine!" I wish that story was out there a little more.

I now have a teeny tiny bit more respect for the big bloggers out there. I was actually overwhelmed replying to all the messages. If I didn't respond to yours, rest assured it made me cry in a happy, touching way, I intended to regroup and respond, and then a kid needed me. I got a lot of comments complimenting me for being a good mom or being brave to share - which is amazing, truly, and wonderful to hear. But I felt a bit guilty about it taking credit away from where it's truly due - Royce! I'm pretty sure an hour of therapy is equivalent to us taking the SATs. It's play based, of course, but he works hard and it doesn't end there, as we practice saying sounds with him all day every day. The PECS system he will be using to communicate (thanks to so many people who told me the name) was described as his SLP as learning a foreign language, so he really deserves alllllllll the compliments for already doing great with it in practice.



One important thing to know about Royce (probably ok to use his name now? idk) is that he is the happiest kid. And the most patient kid. Like, for real, he is #patientgoalz. I can only aspire to his level of zen and hope to get even halfway there (in like 20 years not now when I have little kids). He will point to something and just stay so cool and collected while I fumble through trying to figure out what he means and name it for him. Like any 2 year old, he likes to announce the exciting things he sees around him, but since he isn't able to yet, he relies on us to do his commentating while he directs us.
Always jumping, always patient, always sweet

Moving on to other random updates.

Running:
This week was both a win and a fail. I did five workouts (according to my FitBit), which is a huge accomplishment. However, only one of them was running, and it was with the double stroller, so a wog at best. Plus, Royce fell asleep and then didn't nap at home, so a true loss.



Workouts:
  • Half a Body Pump class (before childcare came and got me because screaming baby)
  • Free Forest hike with the kids (my FitBit counted this, therefore I count this)
  • 20 minute HIIT workout with Jackie and ALL THE KIDS AWAKE and no other adults helping
  • 2 mile double stroller hell
  • An hour of jumping with the boys at the trampoline park
Not the most traditional but I'm sore and it felt hard, TWSS. Jackie is out of town this weekend so clearly my motivation without her kind of sucks. In my defense, I was going to run on the treadmill today but the trampoline park was unexpected and my heart rate was really high the whole time, so, not doubling down.

Post HIIT

Sleep:


Bedsharing. I'm pretty sure somewhere along the way I said something about how do people do that and joke's on me, because now I love it. Dalton always ended up in our bed as a baby. Remi was starting to go down the same route. Royce never did, always slept fine in first the rock and play (don't report me to sanctimommies for this please) and then the crib, as proof that sleep is kid dependent and not a result of parenting. I never slept well when she ended up there because I was anxious. Once I just embraced it and made my bed safe with a firm mattress (took off my memory foam topper) and bedrails and no extra pillows, I started sleeping so much better. BRB knocking on all the wood. I rarely have to fully wake up, when she starts fussing to eat I just move towards her and latch her on and conk back out. No clue how many times that happens or what time it is when it happens and that's how I like it. So, yeah, I'm in the crunchy club, I think. I mean, we use cloth diapers. But I also bribe them with lollipops and Paw Patrol. Not sure what parenting label that leaves me with. I like to call myself "any port in a storm".


I feel I should update about Dalton since I haven't mentioned him! Even though my other updates were mainly just about me. He's just keeping on keeping on, saying ridiculously funny four year old things and being the best helper a mom could ever ask for.



He's also practicing his photography skills, as seen below.

I'm proud to say our Christmas tree is already down and it didn't take till March.

Also, Remi is now 7 months! Actually, 7.5. She's obsessed with food, as we do the pretentiously named baby led weaning. She can now sit up, scoot, and wants to crawl so badly but can't quite get there yet. Since she learned to sit up on New Year's Day, she's suddenly so much more chill and will happily sit on the floor and play with toys. The sweet spot for sure - able to sit, not able to move (much)!

No more sitting quietly for monthly pictures!

She's starting to get into people other than me and her brothers - giving her dear old dad a chance.


And that's all I have to say about that (for now). 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Speech - our story (so far)


I've gone back and forth over posting about this, but really the majority of the people who read this blog are my mom and aunt and a few other friends who are already well aware of the situation. I've "met" so many amazing people and been able to share experiences throughout writing this blog, so if anyone reading has struggled with this same issue, I would love to hear from you.

My middle child, R, is going to turn 3 in May. He's sweet, attentive to his little sister, cuddly, kind, hilariously funny, an amazing climber, best friends with his older brother, great at gymnastics and building with blocks...the list goes on. He's currently nonverbal. For reference, the rule of thumb is one word by age one. Dalton and I were both late talkers and began speaking closer to age 2. To be nonverbal while closing in on age 3 is considerably beyond the platitudes that well meaning people try to help me feel better with "he's just a late talker!" and "he's focused on moving and climbing!". Don't get me wrong, I appreciate any and every attempt to help me emotionally, but once we hit 2.5 with no words, and also had an evaluation at a private children's hospital, I had to face reality that there was something more going on.

He was evaluated by Infants and Toddlers, which is Maryland's version of early intervention services. For those who don't know, every state is required to provide early intervention services for children birth-age 3 through the local school district. His initial evaluation was at 15 months old and he began speech services shortly after that. He has made great progress. He is now able to say initial sounds of words with prompting, and shake his head for yes and no consistently. That's HUGE! However, it's been frustrating for us that none of his progress has been saying actual words.

The big question everyone has is "why?". It's the question that has me up late at night, agonizing over everything I've done from his conception to now, wondering what I could have done differently so that this skill that comes so easily to most other children is so, so difficult for my son. .

R is still very young, too young for most diagnoses. He's been evaluated by an occupational therapist and had his hearing checked - both with a clean bill of health. His receptive language is fine. If I say "R I dropped my phone can you pick it up and hand it to me?" he can hear, understand, and follow that direction. As much as any two year old follows any direction, anyway. His cognitive abilities are right where they should be. He can articulate just about any sound. He just can't speak. And there's no simple answer why - some diagnosis, some label that I could obsessively google to see when kids with this particular issue begin speaking. FYI, it's not autism (that's the second question everyone asks). He's been extensively evaluated for autism by professionals and they've determined that's not the cause of his lack of speech.

The most likely reason, according to both public and private evaluations and services, is a motor planning issue. This means that while he is able to physically make the sounds, there is some sort of breakdown with his brain telling his mouth to move his lips, tongue, and jaw in the correct way to make them purposefully and meaningfully. That's the broad explanation and his therapist will be working to hone in on exactly what is going on and how best to address it.

With his progress plateauing and the public services just doing the same old, same old every week, we sought private therapy. We are lucky to live just a few miles from Kennedy Krieger, which is a children's hospital that provides various therapies, run by Johns Hopkins. People come from all over to get evaluated and participate in therapy there. There's a huge waiting list. He was evaluated in November and began therapy last week! He will receive weekly therapy. The best part is that they plan to work with him to identify just what is preventing him from speaking, so they can target the therapy appropriately. Equally exciting, within about two weeks he should have a communication book. This is a low tech communication device that will allow him to actually converse with us. See, he's great at nonverbal communication. If he wants milk, he will get a cup, get out the milk jug, come find me or Eric and give them to us. Even people who don't know him well usually can understand what he wants and he fits right in to places like gymnastics or YMCA childcare and no one realizes he has this special need.

However, the low tech communication device will allow him to actually talk with us. He can tell us what his favorite animal at the zoo is while we sit around the dinner table. Things like that. Going beyond just bringing us the milk to pour. It will also allow him to communicate in sentences. He will learn by pointing to the pictures to communicate "I want to drink milk", the idea being that his language will develop at an age appropriate level, even if his speech is behind. It will also increase his vocabulary.

At his evaluation, they talked about how successful kids are in using these devices in school, and how it could be adapted to use in Kindergarten, and I started crying. No one wants their kid to be the "different" one, the one you have to pray he gets a teacher who is willing to go above and beyond to include him, the one who isn't able to do what his peers do. Many people have a story of how someone they know never said a word until X age and then suddenly started talking in sentences. Up until this appointment I had thought that would be us. I didn't even realize how much I believed that until faced with the idea of him being unable to speak in Kindergarten. Of course he could make huge progress and be dismissed from speech by then, but I also need to be realistic that this may not be the case and we may have a long road ahead of us. I think sometimes people are so focused on sharing these hopeful stories with me, and again, with the best of intentions. It's great to be optimistic, but it's not great to live with your head in the clouds and not be realistic about what is to come. I know he will speak, and I know Eric and I will do absolutely everything we can to help him get there and help him communicate in the meantime. But I don't want to live in a fantasy world where it will just happen magically one day.

Another sort of confusing thing is that R has this need, but in the special education world, he's "not needy enough". This is what I've been told when I have pushed to get him more public services (we are just gearing up to fight that battle as he approaches age 3, which is when children are old enough to get an IEP). People are quick to remind us "yes, but his cognitive abilities are fine!" "you're lucky he doesn't have X issue as well". Yes, and that's wonderful, and we are grateful. I hesitated even using the term "special needs child" in this post, because I feel like it is stealing sympathy from those more deserving of it. It's not a competition though, and I'm not going to back down seeking out anything and everything to help my child just because there are other needier children as well. He can't speak, and that inability is only going to impact his life more and more every single day.

I haven't used his name or picture in this post so that it won't come up on a google search one day (I read GOMI too much). Not that it's shameful or anything, but I think it's up to him if he wants to fully share one day.

So that's where we are at. On New Year's Eve, as we did the kid's Netflix countdowns, he happily joined in the counting, saying "Ah" for each number right along with us. I'm feeling very hopeful about his new therapy at Kennedy Krieger and just praying so hard that on NYE 2019 he's able to truly count with us.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

First half of 2019 running goals

Happy New Year!

Apparently the only picture I took of New Year's Eve

I was a little weirdly sad at saying goodbye to 2018. The years your kids are born are really special, and, spoiler alert, this was the last one I'll ever have. But time marches on and all, so we did a few Netflix kids countdowns around 6:30pm and I went to sleep around 10pm (Eric was bartending). To celebrate the holiday I looked at my phone whenever Remi woke up (I normally have a strict policy I do not check the time until morning). At some point it was in the 12am hour so I was like yay 2019! Wild times here.

But 2019 is already off to an exciting start. I signed up for a race! My running buddy Jackie and I have a fantastic history of peer pressuring each other to do athletic events, most notably, GORUCK. That's this crazy thing where you march literally all freaking night (in our case 10pm to around noon the following day) with a backpack full of bricks (not kidding) and do things like jump in the Annapolis harbor and carry a telephone pole for hours.



Recaps of that insane night:
http://chocolateismylife-us.blogspot.com/2012/04/when-porto-potty-is-step-up.html
http://chocolateismylife-us.blogspot.com/2012/04/goruck-frightening-visuals.html

Runner up: doing a half ironman triathlon.

Current day: the Baltimore 10 miler. Our wild and crazy challenges are over for right now. A ten mile race is plenty challenging for the moment.


When Royce was only 5 months old, I did a half marathon (with Jackie!). Now, I have no idea how I managed that. While it was a good experience, I knew going into round 3 I didn't want to train for any races while in the trenches of breastfeeding. It's just too much on my body. Racing could wait until the baby was a year old. While I hope to still be nursing then, it's not the same as a five month old who depends on me for 100% of their nutrition.

This race is exactly one week after Remington turns one. It's just that perfect.

It's also a local favorite. I've done it five times before (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 as my first race back when Dalton was 8 months old).

Our training plan is pretty loose, and I can't take any credit, Jackie came up with it all. One long run on the weekend, one weekday run, and one non running workout weekly. I hope some weeks I'll be able to do more, but in this season of life being home full time with a 4 year old, 2.5 year old and 7  month old, that's about all I can commit to. (My 4yo does go to preschool two mornings a week.)
Those rare moments when everyone is playing together nicely.


The jogging stroller only holds two of them, there's no guarantee of a double nap when I can run (Dalton has quiet time in his room), and Eric is coaching basketball so he's normally not home until past bedtime. The other option is getting up before he leaves for work, but that's just not happening. We still have a lot of night time wakeups around here and I need any sleep I can get.

Monthly long run length goals:
January: five miles (already met!)
February: 6 miles
March: 7 miles
April: 8 miles
mid May: 9 miles

And the race is June 1!


Last week was a bit of a cheat since it was a holiday week and I had Eric around Monday and Tuesday and Jackie was off work, but we are off to a great start. We did 4.5 miles Tuesday. We had intended for 3-3.5, but when we stopped at our cars after completing 3, a miracle occurred. I checked my phone and Eric had sent me this picture.



We hadn't even bothered to try a bottle with Remi since she had refused them while I was maid of honor in Casi's wedding on October 20. (Side note we are like 90% of the way there convincing Casi to do the race.) But Eric figured it couldn't hurt and she took it! She only had about an ounce, but it was enough to sustain her and she went to sleep after and I was so excited we ran another 1.5 miles! She took another ounce while I met Casi and Carolyn for coffee the next day and I was out of the house for a good four hours of adult time. Exciting stuff around here!

At Loch Raven, one of our favorite routes, during our 4.5 miler

Saturday, we did 5 miles! All of our runs now include some walking in the total mileage. We used to not count that, but times have changed. We also ran some pretty big hills for both of those, since the B10 is notoriously hilly. Even with walking, our 5 mile pace was 10:50, which I'm proud of!

Non running workouts: 15 min low impact HIIT, 10 minute full body strength (both Peloton videos)
Weekday run: 2 mile double stroller walk/run while Dalton was at preschool (this was more like 50/50 walking and running with huge hills) + 1 treadmill mile during nap later that day

Of course it's always easiest to stay motivated at the start of something like this, but being off to a solid start feels good. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

How's the baby sleeping?

Since when I finally got around to posting I hit a popular divisive topic in mommy wars, staying at home vs. working, I figured why not make it a two-fer. Next up: baby sleep!

One of the common questions you get when you have a baby is "How is she sleeping?". Remington sleeps great! As long as she is in my arms or snuggled next to me she sleeps pretty well, when she is also nursing, she sleeps wonderfully.



In answer to what I know people actually mean when they ask that question, no, I do not kiss her goodnight at 7pm, put her in her crib, and see her in the morning. She's not so much a fan of that.

When it comes to baby sleep, you have two options. You can have your baby cry it out, therefore making them think they've been abandoned in a Russian orphanage and preventing them from ever experiencing emotions, or you can respond to their every cry, therefore creating an overly attached pathetic mama's boy or girl who will never be able to fall asleep unless their mother rocks them EVER and generally cannot cope with life. So, clearly, it's an easy decision, you just have to decide which way of ruining your child best fits in with your lifestyle as a parent.



Right now I'm doing option 2, but being on my third child, I know things can change at any moment, and I might switch to option 1 at any point. First, I was ruining my child by having her sleep in the rock and play. If you're the parent of a child under age 5, and you have access to the internet, you know that's a huge no no. Both Remington and Royce slept pretty well in the rock and play until about 5 months, when they began to outgrow it.

Shortly after arriving home from the hospital, Remi slept swaddled in the rock and play. She woke about every 2 hours to eat. Babies are supposed to slowly increase the time between feedings as they grow. Parents love to brag on social media about how long of a "stretch" their baby did. I believe Harvard offers early admission to any baby who hits 6 hours by a month old (no personal experience).

TINY BB IN ROCK AND PLAY

As I've learned, babies often don't read the books or pay attention at pediatrician checkups, so Remi hit six months and had never increased her "stretches" past the 2 hours. I'm not really much of a sleep trainer because I'm lazy and it all sounds like a lot of stressful work. I don't do the "eat, play, sleep", I'm solidly in the "when in doubt, whip it out" camp. Definitely a bit of an attachment parent when it comes to sleep, but I can never get in to that club because I abandoned my first two to daycare at only 12 weeks old. 

Additionally, around five months, she started doing the thing where she would wake up to eat, I'd put her away in the rock and play, and then she'd wake up 20 minutes later, angry to be all alone. This was also around the time she got hand foot mouth/ear infections/pink eye. She had been starting to put herself to sleep occasionally, but after her illnesses that was out the window.

The day she turned six months I packed up the rock and play and put it in the basement. I also posted to insta stories Eric bringing the mini crib up the stairs. Her actual bedroom is really far from our bedroom so with her waking so much there was no way. I was ready to transition her to the crib, just still in the same room as me.

I put her in the crib that night after she went to sleep. She woke up screaming pretty quickly. And I just decided I was done. I did a little refresh on safe bedsharing, and we haven't really bothered with the crib since. As many of us know, Eric is a SUPER deep sleeper, so we are both more comfortable with him sleeping separately when we have tiny babies. Since we came home from the hospital with Royce and Remi I've nursed side lying in bed. Dalton was a whooooooole different story because #firsttimeparents.

I also stopped looking at my phone at night. I'm not even sure how I got back into that habit because I didn't track much with Royce. Now I put it on do not disturb and don't look at it again until morning. I know she wakes and nurses at night still but I have no idea how many times, how long the all important stretches are, nothing. That was all crazy making. I wouldn't say I feel like I've just gotten back from a week at the spa but I feel much more rested than I have in six months.

"But my cousin's neighbor's mailman coslept and his daughter wouldn't sleep alone until she was 17." Yep I'm aware that everyone who's never coslept personally knows someone who it caused "issues" for. And there will come a time where it won't work anymore and we will have to figure out something else. But one of my goals in parenting is to do what works until it doesn't work. I spent a ton of Dalton's infancy worried about the so called "bad habits" and it was a huge waste of time because the fact is I don't know what will happen or how she will develop or what will work for our family when she's 2 or 4 or in elementary school, but I do know this works right at this moment.

I honestly don't really think much you do when your kids are babies matters. Vaccinate them and do your best with car seat safety and don't give them recreational drugs. Aside from that, just survive the year and the babies will be fine. The important thing is to try to do what makes you, as the parent, not lose your mind. For some people, cosleeping and nursing all night on demand would make them lose their mind. They definitely shouldn't do it. For me, right now, cry it out would make me lose my mind. So, I am not doing it. Just do whatever sounds the least horrible to you and if someone else does something different, both your babies will be fine.



Of course, I talk a big game, but I stress over it and wonder if I'm dooming her to never being independent. When my friend's son was around Remi's age, she was cosleeping and stressing and I was pregnant at the time and told her not to worry, he would sleep on his own when he was ready (apparently, full disclosure, I don't remember this but my pregnancy brain was pretty bad). Well now he's a year and sleeping better and I'm texting her for reassurance that I'm not ruining my kid. She said "but you're the one who told me they sleep on their own!". Ahhh right but that was when I was pregnant and full of wisdom and confidence. Now the kid is here and even though it's not my first rodeo I still really don't know what I'm doing.

So unimpressed with my ineptitude 

Which sleep method did you ruin your kid with?



Saturday, December 1, 2018

How's life as a SAHM?


It's been forever! I thought I would blog more while on leave of absence but at the moment my laptop is out of commission. I just had a giant DD coffee and it's Saturday and I don't feel like I'm about to pass out so...here are some responses one of the common questions I get.

~How's life as a SAHM? 

So this is kind of fraught because this is a huge "mommy war" trigger area. I'm in a weird in between position, where I'm not working right now, but I don't fully identify as a SAHM either. I didn't quit my job, I'm on a leave of absence, I have a hard return date, and despite the fact that many people insist I'll just quit, that's not going to be happening for a variety of reasons both financial and personal. I feel guilty talking to my working friends because I'm not back at it, pumping in the trenches, navigating a 3 month old in daycare like them. But I also don't totally identify with SAHM friends either because this isn't a permanent fix for me, and I have also had nearly 4 years of being a mom and working full time.



Labels aside, it's awesome. And that's where I feel somewhat uncomfortable, like I'm being a traitor and fueling the mommy wars. But here's the thing: being a parent is hard. It's hard because you love your kid so much it hurts and just want to do everything right for them, but there is no "right", and there is no instruction manual, and kids sure don't make it easy, and that's confusing and challenging every single day. I haven't seen any way that changes whether a parent is working, not working, a mother, a father, whatever.

That said...yeah, things are easier for me without a full time job. There's a reason TGIF is a thing, and a "case of the Mondays" is an entirely different thing. I don't set an alarm. Sure, that doesn't mean I get to lounge in bed until I feel like it, but I think it's safe to say there aren't too many people past college age who do. Almost 100% of the time I still sleep later than I did last school year, waking up before the kids to shower, get ready, prepare a crock pot dinner, clean, etc. Also, "getting up" just means going downstairs in my pajamas and drinking coffee. It doesn't mean jumping in the shower before the insane rush to get ready for daycare and out the door by 7 and cramming my breakfast down my gullet during hall duty.

In her short life, Remington has already had pink eye, a double ear infection, and hand foot mouth.
Random pic of her being adorable hiking at Free Forest School

Conveniently, I think? All at the same time. She would have had to been out of daycare for a full week! Not having any family in town, Eric and I would have had to take turns taking off, dealing with sub plans, guilt trips from coworkers, losing sick days we had already used up for maternity/paternity leave...all in the first quarter of the school year. It's a LOT easier to just be like "My baby is ill. I will care for her." End of story. Side note I also got HFM and had to take Advil in order to eat for two weeks straight. Baby weight lost from that: 0 pounds wtf.

With a six month old, of course not working is significantly easier, because no mother should be at work 6 months after giving birth unless she chooses to. Maternity leave in this country should actually exist. I can lay down with her during naptime when I'm exhausted from night wakeups. Breastfeeding without having to pump 3+ times a day, wash bottles, wash pump parts, count ounces feels like a dream come true. Honestly any time I feel like I'm going to lose it with frustration I picture the unheated cluttered closet I used to pump in. The door didn't close all the way, I would be balancing my pump and laptop and lunch on these rickety shelves covered with crap and sitting in a tiny hard plastic kid chair. So yeah, not every single moment is rainbows in sunshine but a much, much higher percentage are.

Like this!

And I'll just say it - it's a LOT more fun. This is nothing against my job, and I really do miss working with the students. But let's get real. Paperwork, observations, spending hours grading, standardized tests, STRESS...yeah I don't miss that. Getting to be in the woods hiking with my kids, or at story time, or at a playground, or just playing at home, on a weekday morning is literally the absolute best thing I could possibly ever be doing. I hate myself for sounding so cheesy but it swear it's true! YES they drive me crazy and I feel like I'm about to lose my mind at least every day when they are fighting over a book and we have 50,000 books or an empty paper towel tube (not making that up). But again, kids drive you crazy with fighting and tantrums and being kids regardless of your sex or your employment status. That's not a SAHM thing, so I don't feel it's relevant. Or if it is, with the argument that I experience more of the frustrating moments being home with them, ummmm....have you ever BEEN working at a job? It can have one or two frustrating moments. That's why it's called "work" and comes with the perk of a paycheck. My job can be fulfilling but my kids bring me more joy than anything else in the world. Apparently I can't write about this without being super cheesy. But, it is Christmas season, the time for cheesy sentiments, right?



~ How do you take your kids so many places? (Not a humble brag I swear people ask this!)

Because they legit cray.



For real though, they get antsy and turn the house into a jungle gym if we stay home so it's honestly easier for me to just take them somewhere designed for their insanity.



Remi loves chilling in the ergo, isn't mobile, and sleeps on the go, so now is really the time for it. I'm not a good literal stay at home mom. When the van was broken, or when HFM hit us (but not the boys so they were nuts as ever), and we had to stay home, my patience declined quickly. We do playdates with friends most days, seek out free/inexpensive activities, and ask for memberships to places for holidays instead of gifts.
At the zoo with Casper and Wyatt

Baby besties (Remi has several besties)

Everyone is happier this way. I also have the ticking clock feeling sometimes. I only get two years of being able to go see the train garden at Christmastime on a Monday! Must do ALL THE THINGS!


~ Do you miss work? 

LOLLLLZ just kidding no one would ever actually ask that.

Add caption

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Day in the Life August 2018


I've been on my own on weekdays with a 3 month old, 2 year old, and almost 4 year old for a little over a week now, and here's what our real life day looked like in all the mom guilt survival glory.

FYI we usually do some sort of outing but the van was out of commission this week and I learned I am sure not cut out to be a LITERAL stay at home mom.

Some point when it's still dark out to 6:45 am: Remi is on and off fussy and even in bed with me has a tough time settling down. 

6:45am It's time to accept that sleep, for the moment, is over. I hold her in bed and drink cold brew and browse social media. Eric leaves for work just before 7. 

7:15 Baby is finally out. Dalton throws the door to our bedroom open and bolts in yelling "HAVE YOU SEEN MY POLICE DUMP TRUCK?!" Royce is not far behind him, holding out a small jar of crystallized ginger that had fallen off the spice rack for me to open. I give them each a piece. They like it. 

Everyone goes downstairs, except Remi who's now sleeping in the rock and play. We locate the police dump truck in the middle of the kitchen. (Currently, every vehicle gets "police" in front of it and can be used to do police work.) The boys ask for cereal for breakfast and we begin our morning routine of screen time until I feel I am awake enough to parent. 

The very first day Eric began the school year, Dalton suddenly announced he didn't like to watch shows with mommy, only daddy. We watched no shows. Same thing on day 2. I had no idea what to think because I had planned to rely heavily on screen time to successfully complete this two year leave of absence. Thank goodness, on day 3, he decided that "Remi was upset" and she needed to watch his favorite show to cheer up.

Dalton teaching Royce to use the remote. 

Screen time is a always one of the top squares on mom guilt bingo. I'm not immune to the guilt but I've mainly moved past it. I don't stick my kids in front of the tv 24/7, we do plenty of fun non screen activities, so, whatever. We watch a good amount and I don't have any sort of self imposed time limit. I realize kids can learn from tv but let's get real, how much are they really learning from Paw Patrol?

We do only watch in certain spots in our daily routine, to avoid Dalton asking for it constantly and it being a source of meltdowns every time I say no. Before nap and bed we only do one show, because, duh, sleep (and thank goodness for Amazon prime which makes a billion shows with 10 minute episodes). Mornings however, are unlimited. The boys usually get distracted and start chasing each other or something and forget its on before I have to turn it off anyway. This morning they actually brought over books and wanted to all read together!

Much photographer

Plus Royce wandered away and started doing his name and alphabet puzzle so, probably not ruining them with screen time. I'll ruin them some other way.

He can do the whole puzzle himself!

7:30 Remi wakes up for the day and it's time for my favorite part: picking her outfit and getting her dressed! Girl baby clothes are life.


8:00 While she's in her bouncer and the boys are watching shows, I try to not be a total slob and empty the dishwasher. Fun discovery: I left the lemon in my lemon squeezer before I ran it last night!

Judging
 8:30 Remi's hour of awake time is up and she becomes quite angry if she isn't napping right away. Swaddle, white noise, snuggles, because we use alllll the sleep crutches here. I tried to do organized naps not in my arms for a total of one day and it was dumb and everybody hated it. The boys napped in my arms for months and I don't think that's ruined them any more than the screen time or epidurals during their births.


Royce is that judgy sanctimommy telling me not to create bad habits. 

Around this nap I lost track of specific times, but we enter the vortex of trying to get everyone dressed, sunscreened, possessing a clean butt, and outside to play.


Somewhere in there she woke up and I probably fed her.

Also in there I made us all eggs.
 The most important part of the morning is where they act extra cute as their insurance for later when they will inevitably do something that makes me want to lose my mind.


10:00ish maybe: We complete several laps around the neighborhood. It's hot AF. Remi is in her favorite nap spot, the ergo. She likes it extra when I'm pouring sweat on her so this morning was her best life.


We play the "stop/go" game (literally just saying stop and go as we go on our walk) in my futile efforts to get Royce to stop running away and disappearing when we play outside. 50% success rate. 

Finally I convince them to sit in the shaded backyard and play with their spray bottles so I can feed Remi and not spontaneously combust.


She hangs out in her bouncer while I make lunch. I loooove how our kitchen looks out to our backyard so I can watch them play while I cook, or in this case, put turkey on bread.
Creeping on them out the window.

You better believe I didn't waste my good Aldi pretzel bread on them.


11:30 They ask to eat outside which I am ALL FOR since there are enough crumbs on our floor as it is. Royce dumps all the sandwich fillings out and eats only mustard soaked bread. 


 12:00 Show before early nap! Usually it's more like 1-2 but we have plans this afternoon. Book, song, and Royce is down in the ten minutes of Dalton's show. The boys share a room at night but that didn't go so well at naptime. Royce really still needs a nap, while Dalton usually only sleeps once or twice a week. So Royce sleeps in his old room/Remi's future room/the "nursery", which is currently just basically an unused crib and clothing storage. We have a comfy recliner in there that Royce sleeps on.

12:15 Book and song for Dalton and BYEEEEE felicia. He plays in his room for quiet time and usually comes out to "go potty" about 45 times, comes out for at least one drink, and then 1-5 random requests like "mommy can you draw me a C after my quiet time?". But overall he plays in his room by himself.

12:30 Remi is actually sleeping on her own! Workout time!


15 minute random Youtube tabata full body workout.
1:00 Zone out, play on my phone, drink my afternoon coffee (cold brew but with creamer this time, I use Pioneer Woman recipe for both). I really thought I was going to use this time daily to clean the house and get organized and take charge of my life and.....so far that's not been the case.

1:30 Remi's up

1:45 Royce is up, which also means Dalton's quiet time is over. We play outside a bit and then I get about 4K steps getting everyone in bathing suits to go swimming at our neighbor's pool!



We are so lucky to have the best neighbors! Their pool was 92 degrees so even Remi loved it. Until she got tired and she didn't.

3:45 This is where the wheels began to fall off. Remi was overtired and crying, but wanted to be held, and I needed to change all four of us out of swimsuits. This is also where I could see why people space kids out more so you don't have to do pretty much everything for everyone.

4:00 Get in the car to meet Eric for dinner. Remi is still overtired and now crying harder and I feel terrible for keeping her in the pool too long and also about to hyperventilate with all the crying. We pull away from the house and Dalton loses his mind because him and Royce were sharing grapes and even though he had plenty of grapes Royce got more of the vine. I drive around the block then pull over and break the vine in half while taking deep breaths and trying not to have a nervous breakdown. This settles Dalton down but Remi is still screaming and I'm still using labor breathing to try to get through this car ride. Halfway there she stops crying and falls asleep! This has never happened with her or any of my kids that I can recall. MIRACLE! Life becomes enjoyable again.

4:30 The whole reason we went out for dinner was because a pizza place was having 50% off for teacher appreciation night. Which was ironic, because the restaurant outing that had us swearing off all restaurants for a minimum of five years was a packed Red Robin on teacher appreciation night back in June. We're slow learners.

But this time around was a roaring success. No line, and a huge green area for the kids to play and run around, and we got dinner for all four of us for $11!

It looks like Eric is on his phone here, but he was really just reading a card with the types of pizza.
After pizza, we played outside there for awhile because these children have endless energy.

6:30 Everyone gets home, bathtime for the boys, marathon nursing session/boob catnap for me and Remi. Show, books, songs, bed by 7:30 for the boys. 

7:30 I contemplate trying to get away with another non bath day for Remi, but I can't remember the last time she had one so it feels wrong. She loves her bath and is kicking and smiling like crazy. Until I take her out and then she's pissed. 

8:00 I get her settled down temporarily, or long enough for me to shower anyway. There's something about that swaddled little burrito sucking the pacifier that's just so precious. 

8:30-10:00 Eric and I take turns helping her settle intermittently while we chat a bit and he watches football and I write this post.



10:00 First kid up for the night! It's Dalton with a nightmare. I should probably try to get some sleep before the next wakeup.